By Ruth (Monty’s Mom)
For the first time in his young life, Monty helped put up a real Christmas tree. The tree is set up on a low table. We laid some large flat boards over the top of the table and the tree stand is screwed into those boards. In this way the tree is more secure if Monty should try to climb it and the table top is protected from any water spilled while watering the tree.
I bought a new tree skirt to cover the water basin under the tree so that Monty won’t have access to it and drink water that could make him sick. I made sure the tree skirt does not hang down over the edge of the table, so that it will not be tempting as a place for Monty to hook his claws for a good scratch or a stretch, possibly pulling the tree down on himself, or at the very least, damaging the tree skirt.
I have to say I’m shocked at how expensive Christmas is. The tree skirt was $30! Our tree was less than twenty, but we had to buy a pre-cut tree to get that price. If we had cut our own tree, as we usually like to do, it would have cost us between $40-$85! I had never bought new ornaments before, but I wanted unbreakable ones because of Monty. These were also very expensive, so I just bought a few. Our tree is not as decorated as in years past, but I left all the breakable glass ornaments (purchased second hand) in their boxes downstairs.
Monty handled the addition of a live tree to his indoor environment quite well. He seems to like it, especially since his outside time has been very limited by cold and snowy weather. He helped put up the tree by batting my hooks onto the floor and swatting ornaments with his paws. I used only unbreakable ornaments, so this was no problem. He sat between boxes of ornaments and I stroked him, reflecting that he really is just a little cat after all. Sometimes he seems larger than life to me, as large as his personality.
He can boss me right out of bed at three a.m. to give him food, after all. And yet, he is so small and vulnerable. He tolerated the petting, but he truly enjoyed watching me put up the tree. There is nothing better to him than watching humans do stuff. He did try to eat the pine needles. We bought a tree with long, soft needles rather than the short sharp ones. The long soft needles are less of a risk to Monty if he should ingest some of them. I’m careful to pick up any needles that fall, but very few have, since the tree is actually very fresh.
The other night Monty was sitting on his window perch just staring at the tree. I thought perhaps he was enjoying the lights. We are trying out the new LED Christmas tree lights this year, and they are very bright and festive. But I think it was the tree itself that was the source of his enjoyment. Monty hasn’t been getting much outside time. It has been bitterly cold, getting down to one or two degrees Fahrenheit overnight. He wants to go out, but he just can’t handle those temperatures. Even at ten above, he stayed out about one minute yesterday, and then came in meowing loudly. He has a very loud meow that means he is in pain. When it gets really cold it hurts! It hurts me too, but I have to go out in it and scrape the ice off my car windows and drive to work with my toes going completely numb. Monty is fortunate. He can come in and cry to Mom that the cold made him hurt and then get some tuna to make it all better.
I can’t help but think of how if I had not caught Monty that summer’s day four years ago, he would have had to endure that cold. It may have even taken his life. It might have taken the lives of his siblings. We had a sharp cold snap a few years ago, and after that I never saw them again, those cats I couldn’t catch that summer’s day. When I think of Monty’s sisters crying out in the cold, with no one there to open the door quickly and give them some tuna it just makes me grab Monty and hug him tight. He complains to be let down, annoyed little meows breaking through the loud purr he always makes when I pick him up. He’s a busy cat with things to do.
During the winter Monty’s fence between the house and the garage is often removed so that my husband can blow the snow from the driveway into the back yard. We put a wire fence across the porch steps, and with snow on the porch railings, that keeps Monty on the porch so that he can still go outside even if his fence is removed. Sometimes I leave the porch gate up even if the fence is in place, because it seems that when Monty gets cold, he just suddenly gets very cold and needs to come in right away. Until he gets a little more acclimated to the cold weather, it’s better if he explores close to the house. I should shovel the porch so that he has more snow free places to sit. He does not like snow between his toes. Yes, he is a very spoiled little cat. But he deserves it! He is definitely expressing some frustration with the cold weather and his increased confinement inside. I can leave and go cross country skiing, but he is missing his usual outside adventures. It has been a very cold December, but I’m hoping that soon he will get a little more used to the weather and be able to spend more time outside.